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Business Operations

Who's who in car care?

October 11, 2010
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Variety is the spice of car-care life
By Lindsey Blanchfield, Managing Editor

Randy Cressall, owner of Valencia Auto Spa, Valencia, CA has been in the auto care service for 45 years. About 15 years ago, Cressall decided it was time to step things up a notch and offer his customers something more.

Cressall's goal when building Valencia Auto Spa was to provide his customers with a one-stop service center that could address all their car-care needs.

A strong anchor
Valencia Auto Spa offers customers a variety of car-care service choices, including: a carwash, gas station, oil change center, tire and brake center, gift shop, convenience store and more.

"I wanted to build a large car-care complex that had associated automotive services, but was also built very nicely with landscaping and so on,"  Cressall said.

The array of car-care centers work well together be-cause of the synergy present between all the service areas, because they can feed and grow from one another, and because customers appreciate the convenience.

Dedicated efforts
Cressall cares about pleasing his customers, but also about taking care of his employees and surrounding community. To date, Valencia Auto Spa has helped raise over $700,000 for various charities in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Cressall's dedication to his customers, community and the industry has been recognized by the Santa Clarita City Council and by his election to the position of president of the Western Carwash Association in October 2005.

A carwash career choice
By Lindsey Blanchfield, Managing Editor

Carl Howard, 38, COO of Autobell Car Wash, and past Southeastern Carwash Association president, was introduced to carwashing at the age of four and was wiping and vacuuming cars by the age of 12.

Although Howard knew that carwashing was his family's legacy, he made the decision to continue on in the industry of his own volition and has become an integral part of the Autobell organization.

An open mind
As Howard grew up he watched the Autobell name gain recognition and strength. He knew that carwashing was a career option, but was never pressured by his father Chuck Howard, president and CEO of Autobell, to commit his future to the company.

Howard worked in the family business while in high school and went on to the University of North Carolina (UNC) following graduation.

During that time he took on a more active role as an Autobell manager, but also kept his mind open to other career opportunities.

When his college graduation app-roached, Howard watched as his colleagues accepted positions with accounting firms or planned their transition onto law school and medical school.

Despite this, Howard looked at the potential of the Autobell wash chain and was intrigued by the idea of working for his family and having more freedom.

A program that works
Howard made the decision to continue in carwashing after graduating from UNC with a B.S. in Business Admin-istration in 1990.

Since then, Howard has contributed immensely to the wash chain, which now has 43 locations and over 1,400 em-ployees.

Howard also spearheaded Autobell's charity wash program, which has helped raise over $1.5 million for local charities since its inception in 1998.

A child of the carwash
By Lindsey Blanchfield, Managing Editor

Joel Jurkens, co-owner of the Octopus Car Wash chain with 19 sites in six states, has been in the industry for over 35 years. This past year he attempted to retire, but realized after only five short weeks away from his washes that he wasn't ready to break the ties yet.

Hard to say goodbye
Jurkens was nominated for Who's Who in Car Care 2006 by Michael Neal, the manager of one of Octopus' newest sites in Farmington, NM.

In an email sent to Professional Carwashing & Detailing® magazine nominating his employer, Neal said, "He (Jurkens) is a grand director and motivator, but more significantly, he is a quality individual who truthfully is at all times nearby to offer his support." 

Jurkens said that when he attempted retirement he realized that carwashing was in his blood.

"Once it's in your blood, it's hard to leave," Jurkens said. "I think I'm realizing that you only get one walk through life, so you've got to enjoy it a little bit more." 

Lifelong love
Once the retirement idea was retired, Jurkens came back to Octopus with full force, in order to help get the chain's first attempt at the express wash concept up and running.

Octopus Car Wash has come a long way since Jurkens' father, John Jurkens, opened the first site in Rock Island, IL in 1953.

"My father started in carwashing 50 years ago, and I'm pretty sure they didn't use diapers on me when I was young, they used carwash towels." 

Jurkens has grown up in this industry and has proven that he undeniably deserves the title of Who's Who in Car Care 2006.


A dedication to detail
By Chris Reach, Contributing Writer

Gina Budhai, managing partner of Car Pool Detail, a subsection of the Virginia-based Car Pool chain of carwashes, oversees and operates a tight outfit of technical detailers who clean customers' cars with scrutiny.

Leader of the pack
Budhai, along with her staff of six full-time employees, distinguishes herself from the everyday detailer by offering extensive cleaning packages with a technical analysis of each stain, scratch or tear.

It s kind of like when someone goes to a doctor instead of seeing a specialist,  Budhai commented, after being asked to compare her staff's technical cleaning to that of the average detailer in the field.

We ve always taken the time to research each material we re working with so we can detail the right way, and make customers happy,  Budhai added.

Making her move
Budhai has been involved in detailing for the past decade, and previously worked for her father's Arlington, VA-based business, Car Cleaning and Restoration Specialists.

Budhai's father and Paul Carr, CEO of Car Pool, sparked the partnership for Car Pool Detail last year in order to strengthen Car Pool's detailing business.

Car Pool operates a total of six full-service carwashes and Budhai's Car Pool Detail is being used as a business and management model for future detail business expansions within Car Pool.

Within the coming year, Budhai said she hopes to continue technical training and detailing education programs for her workers, and possibly get involved with the automotive insurance assessment business.

Car-care connectivity
By Chris Reach, Contributing Writer

For longtime car enthusiast David Bynon, detailing and automotive restoration fit hand-in-glove when he made the transition from being a simple car-care hobbyist to a business-savvy, Web-based marketer.

Bynon is the head of Autopia Car Care &mdash operated under The Perfect Shine, LLC in San Diego &mdash an online community for detailers and a distribution center for other professionals in the field.

Getting online
Bynon s business, which has been on the Web since March of 1999, serves as a networking resource for detailers and includes direct tips from Bynon on some fundamental cleaning processes.

According to Bynon, the Web site was started to help him become a full-time detailing professional. In addition, he is a writer, custom car builder and active NAVY reservist.

While not updating the online content for Autopia, Bynon is monitoring the Meguiar s online forum for browsers interested in sharing their personal tips and tricks of the trade.

For 2006, Bynon will be working to branch out by offering local seminars for other detailing enthusiasts and professionals, covering such basics as how to repair paint and properly use buffers. He will also offer hands-on clinics for people who d like to learn more and try using some detailing equipment on their own vehicles.

Aside from Bynon's seminars, his business will also be hosting a number of car shows in 2006, the first of which will take place in February.

Detailing against the (g)rain
By Chris Reach, Contributing Writer

In the Northwest, an area notorious for its annual downpour, Kevin Iden has been able to expand his business' name by tapping into the automotive dealership market.

His business, Iden's Detailing, is headquartered in Renton, WA and offers vehicle cleaning and automotive reconditioning services to drivers in the Pacific Northwest.

Carwash ownership
It was 1989 when Iden first started to detail vehicles professionally, and he now operates detailing centers and carwashes surrounding Seattle.

Iden currently oversees almost 60 employees at his detailing centers for car dealers and the three carwash sites he operates.

In the state of Washington, Iden operates Four Corners Car Wash in Maple Valley, the Enumclaw RV and Car Wash in Enumclaw, and Buckley's RV and Car Wash in the town of Buckley.

Currently, Iden's fastest growing service he offers is Chiprotect, 3M's clear vehicle protection film. It is applied to the forward facing painted surfaces of a car including lights, mirrors, hood and bumper.

As for detailing income, Iden says retail work only garners roughly 5 percent of his business as he has decided to concentrate on dealership services due to the unpredictable weather.

"Most people will cancel their retail appointment if it's a rainy day," Iden said. "Our dealership customers, on the other hand, have cars for us to do all day, every day regardless of the weather."


The secret to his success
By Devon Geraghty, Assistant Editor

Dan Kromminga, owner of the Texaco Xpress Lube and CarlB Clean Car Wash located in Vancouver, WA, has been in the car-care business for seven years.

One of the key elements to Kromminga's success has been his loyal employees. Having a low turnover rate helps develop a stronger customer-employee relationship.

The right relationship
Kromminga explained that, the average length of employment here is about five years. My customers appreciate seeing the same faces when they come in. 

One of the most important aspects of Kromminga s job is his strong relationship with his community.

His business often contributes to fund-raisers for local schools, and the community always gives a huge response to these fund-raisers, Kromminga said.

Customer service is also important when it comes to obtaining a loyal customer.

Everyone who comes in for a service at the express lube receives a free carwash and polish. Every car also receives a complete vacuuming before leaving.

Although Kromminga has been successful at this location, he said, "If the right opportunity came along I would expand. I am satisfied, however with my business since it has good employees and good management." 

The largest and the best
By Devon Geraghty, Assistant Editor

Ron Morrow, owner and operator of ROSBRO Corporation (dba Grease Monkey) based in Longmont, CO, has 11 locations open and two locations currently in the works.

Within the next 12 months, the two locations should be opening their doors and will expand the chain s presence.

Site revamp
With all these locations, Morrow has become the largest Grease Monkey franchise operator in the country.

However, being the largest would not have been possible without Morrow's dedicated team of employees and exceptional skills as a businessman.

Morrow has been in the industry since 1987 when he purchased his first Grease Monkey in Longmont and revitalized the location; taking it from the worst performing site to one of the best performing franchise locations Grease Monkey has ever had.

People come back for the customer service, said Morrow.

This seems to be the case considering that Morrow has some longtime employees of over 15 years. They have been able to develop relationships with his customers, which results in customers consistently returning.

Morrow's ability to retain great employees, as well as build great relationships with his customers have been the key elements to his success as a franchisee.

Morrow has also received many awards. He was given the President's Award from Grease Monkey International for being the most outstanding operator in 2001 and 2004. He has also received Diamond Awards, which are given to the franchiser for sales over one million dollars, from 2001 to 2004.

Big successes come in small packages
By Devon Geraghty, Assistant Editor

Patricia Wirth, owner and operator of Potomac Falls Express Lube and Car Wash, has had a successful 25 years in the lube industry.

With her one location in Potomac Falls, VA, Wirth has dedicated herself to achieving a successful business. She started her own lube center eight years ago and has made great strides to maximize business at her single location.

The one and only
Although Wirth has only one location, she just recently added a carwash to it, which proved to be a great decision.

It has only been about 18 months since the addition of the carwash, and within that short amount of time Wirth has seen her business improve greatly.

Sue Ackley, president of the Auto-motive Oil Change Association (AOCA), has known Wirth for about nine years and describes her as a team player who is helpful, informative and knowledgeable.

Wirth has about 12 employees who help her run both the carwash and the lube center.

Some of her most popular services are; oil change, transmission services, fuel system cleaning services and radiator services.

She also has found a way to combine her carwash service and lube service by offering a discount on a carwash to customers who have gotten their oil changed.

Wirth's experience in the field, as well as her positive attitude have gotten her far in the carwash/lube industry and continue to be the driving forces when it comes to the success of her business.


Here's Johnny
By Chris Starace, News Editor

Johnny Jones, owner and operator of the National Car Wash chain, worked for Bell South for 30 years before opening his first carwash 18 years ago.

While at Bell South, Jones utilized his position of planning engineer to find out how many people were living in a given area.

Once he had this information, he used it to open his carwashes in areas he knew had enough people to support the business.

Wise investment
After Jones saw many of his friends lose their retirement money on the stock market, he decided he would make a different investment, opening a carwash.

When I was working, the thing I hated most was paying income taxes, Jones said. I figured when I opened the wash the worst case scenario was that I would break even and not have to pay the IRS. 

It turns out the investment in the first wash has paid off for Jones, who now owns and operates 45 carwashes and has sold 21 franchise locations under the National name.

Over the years, Jones realized that by investing money into upgrades at his facilities, the profits went up at those locations proportionally.

That set the tone for National's business plan, which aims to provide customers with the best value.

Now, Jones is planning on upgrading his existing National locations.

Well-rounded washing
By Chris Starace, News Editor

Believe it or not, Complete Car Wash Systems' Steve Kirkpatrick was primarily a carwash operator and manager before becoming president of a regional equipment sales and distributorship in Lincoln, AL.

In fact, Kirkpatrick first entered the carwashing business in 1968 in Birmingham, AL; he was working in management for about 15 years until he entered into equipment sales and ownership, which inspired him to become a distributor in 1992.

Giving praise
Wash industry expert Fred Grauer, Kirkpatrick's Who's Who nominator, described him as being a long-time contributor to the industry in his region, and praised one of Kirkpatrick's carwashes in Ft. Walton Beach, FL.

The carwash operates under the name Blue Water USA, and has three self-serve bays and two automatic in-bays for customers. It's also located on what Kirkpatrick believes is an extremely valuable piece of real estate that allows for high volume.

Aside from his business coming in from Blue Water, Kirkpatrick also runs carwash locations under the name Wash Tech, and his distributorship is a multi-state carwash supply network for other carwashers in Alabama, Florida and a large portion of Georgia.

We have quite a few real estate holdings in Florida, said Kirkpatrick, who plans on building an express tunnel site in Pensacola, FL that is expected to start running by the end of 2005.

It's (the express model) a pretty hot commodity, added Kirkpatrick. We're constantly looking for full-serves to remodel, and add self-service as well for customers. 

Lone Star's successful layout
By Chris Starace, News Editor

Richard Logan opened Lone Star Car-wash in Victoria, TX, in March 2005 looking for a lower risk investment that would enhance cash flow and that he would be able to manage sufficiently.

What it offers
The wash is located in a highly competitive market, but offers washers numerous perks.

Lone Star Carwash has a large, shaded vacuum area that gives patrons some relief from the hot Texas sun. It is also very well-lit, which improves the customers  sense of security when using the wash at night.

The carwash is attended from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. every day, assuring that the facility is always kept clean and all the equipment is in perfect working condition.

The location of the wash offers customers easy and safe access from two different streets, as well as top-quality chemicals in the washing process.

New facility
The facility is only nine months old, so Logan has no plans for any renovations in the near future, but the wash was designed to accommodate an additional automatic bay if necessary.

Logan has also purchased a piece of real estate and plans to open his second carwash soon.